Mayor to hang up chain

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page -

Mata­mata Pi­ako Mayor Hugh Ver­coe is to step down from the role at the Oc­to­ber elec­tions.

But he is not yet ready to re­tire from lo­cal government pol­i­tics.

In­stead, Mr Ver­coe will seek elec­tion to one of two seats on the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil ( WRC) in the ward rep­re­sent­ing part of Hau­raki, all of Mata­mata Pi­ako and the South Waikato dis­tricts.

An­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion on Mon­day, Mr Ver­coe said: ‘‘I have en­joyed 15 won­der­ful years as mayor of an in­cred­i­bly for­ward­think­ing and pro­gres­sive district and I am grate­ful for the sup­port shown to me.

‘‘Work­ing for the res­i­dents and ratepay­ers of Mata­mata Pi­ako has been very re­ward­ing and a plea­sure.,’’ Mr Ver­coe said.

‘‘But af­ter five terms I felt the time was right to stand aside and to al­low vot­ers the op­por­tu­nity to se­lect a new leader of coun­cil.

‘‘One of those chal­lenges a new mayor and coun­cil will face is the Government re­form of lo­cal government.

‘‘ Pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of Mata­mata and Pi­ako res­i­dents will be a pri­or­ity.’’

Mr Ver­coe said it had taken some time for him to de­cide not to seek a fur­ther term at the helm, par­tic­u­larly when the role had pro­vided so much per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion.

‘‘Over the 15 years, along with my fel­low coun­cil­lors, I think I have achieved what I set out to do in the district.

‘‘Yes, I could have stood for re­elec­tion but mov­ing on now feels right.

‘‘I have no re­grets, only a sense of achieve­ment in do­ing what has been in the best in­ter­ests of the com­mu­ni­ties I serve.

‘‘By mak­ing my de­ci­sion pub­lic at this early stage, this will en­able those in­ter­ested in be­com­ing mayor to con­sider their op­tions and to start their cam­paigns for of­fice.

‘‘It also pro­vides ad­e­quate time for vot­ers to con­sider who should take the lead­er­ship role at coun­cil.’’

Mr Ver­coe is look­ing for­ward to be­ing on the cam­paign trail again and says he has the time to de­vote to WRC if elected.

If he is suc­cess­ful, this will al­low him to con­tinue his work with re­gional civil de­fence as well as hav­ing some in­put into the fu­ture changes within lo­cal government.

Though Mr Ver­coe re­tains his dairy and beef farm­ing in­ter­ests and fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany, his role in th­ese is now at a di­rec­tor level.

He be­lieves his ex­pe­ri­ence as a long- term mayor has equipped him with the skills to make a strong con­tri­bu­tion on the WRC.

‘‘ I bring with me a life­time involvement in farm­ing and un­der­stand­ing of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and that will be an as­set to WRC.’’

Mr Ver­coe ac­knowl­edges he will have to work hard to build a pro­file in the South Waikato district where he is not well known.

Aside from pol­i­tics, Mr Ver­coe has en­joyed a long his­tory with the New Zealand De­fence Force as a ma­jor in the Ter­ri­to­rial Army.

He has re­ceived the Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for ser­vices to the com­mu­nity.

Photo: NI­COLA STE­WART

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